April 21, 2015

NFL schedule day: What is Dolphins' sexiest non-division home game? New poll. Vote now; plus Heat 1st-round pick, Tebow, Riley/LeBron, Mike Redmond, Fins draft verdict, favorite Tweets & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

No radio today: Not doing my regular Tuesday in-studio gig with the Dan LeBatard Show today because I'll be attending the Bob Dylan concert in Fort Lauderdale. I'll be on-air Thursday this week instead.  

1aa1aloveteeth1) It is TUESDAY, APRIL 21. Saw this window decal today. Somebody loves their dentist, their teeth or their devotion to dental hygiene to a rather bizarre degree. 2) Happy 89th birthday, Queen Elizabeth II. Let's do lunch soon. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Pat Riley column, Dolphins draft poll, 4/20, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Latest Mayweather/Pacquiao odds: Via Bovada today, it's now Floyd Mayweather Jr. the favorite at 10-21 odds for their May 2 fight, with Manny Pacquiao at 17-10.

"If Tim Tebow makes the Eagles opening-day roster I'll walk from Miami to Gainesville pulling a 19th Century-style Conestoga covered wagon." --Greg Cote

Trust Riley ... except when he says he's made peace with LeBron: I trust Pat Riley to have the Heat winning big again. I trust him, period, except when he told me directly that he has "absolutely, yes" made peace with the way LeBron James left Miami. Click on In Riley We Trust for my latest column, off yesterday's Riley state-of-the-Heat postseason press conference.

NFL HAS 3-HOUR SCHEDULE SHOW TO TELL US WHAT IS ALREADY SUBSTANTIALLY KNOWN: If corporations can be a genius, the NFL is a genius. No sports league markets itself better. It used to be that the Super Bowl and the draft were the NFL's only national holidays. The draft grew to three days. 1aa1adolhelThen they began to televise the annual scouting combine. Now they televise the announcement of the regular-season schedule. Seriously. That's tonight at 8 p.m. on NFL Network. It's a three-hour show. Three hours! To announce something that is mostly already known! Every team and its fan already know who every 2015 opponent will be. Tonight simply sets the order, filling in exact dates and kickoff times. Big deal. Minor details. Dolphins fans, for example, already know that the five non-division home games will be vs. Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis and the New York Giants, and that the five non-division road games will be at Jacksonville, Philadelphia, San Diego, Tennessee and Washington. Dolfans also know that the six home-and-away series games vs. AFC East foes Buffalo, New England and New York Jets will include an Oct. 4 date vs. the Jets in London. That was supposed to be Miami's home game, meaning the the Fins will have only seven actual home games this year, and travel nine times. Anyway, I'm curious what to you is the sexiest non-division home game on this year's schedule -- the one you're most looking forward to. Vote and say why.

Poll result: Wide receiver should be Dolphins' No. 1 pick: We asked what position Miami should target in upcoming NFL Draft and you had it 44.7 percent for wide receiver, 22.0% cornerback and 13.8% linebacker. The other 19.5% voted "something else."

ARIZONA SWINGMAN PROJECTED AS HEAT FIRST-ROUND PICK: Arizona Wildcats' Stanley Johnson (pictured), a 6-7 small forward who also has played shooting guard, is projected as the Heat's first round 1aa1astanleyjohnsondraft pick (10th overall) by ESPN's Chad Ford in his latest mock draft. Ford's synopsis: "The Heat's future is very much up in the air this summer. Dwayne Wade, Goran Dragic and Luol Deng can opt out and Chris Bosh's health is still a major question mark. Drafting for need probably isn't the smartest move. Johnson would be a nice fit regardless of what the others do. He's one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft, can play the 2 and the 3 and he's a fierce competitor. He can back up both Wade and Deng if they come back, or take a starting role if one of them (likely Deng) decides to leave." My addendum: Wade isn't going anywhere, Heat is highly confident of re-signing Dragic and equally confident in Bosh's full recovery, although Deng departing is a possibility. Not as sure Johnson is NBA-ready. He turns 19 May 29.

1aa1amikeredMARLINS: RED'S LAST STAND?: Marlins manager Mike Redmond, "Red" to his friends, red-faced by a 3-10 start to the season, may be fighting for his job in the three-game series in Philadelphia starting tonight. After suffering a four-game sweep at the Mets, a three-game sweep by the lowly Phillies could doom Redmond. For me it's too soon to have any manager on a firing line, but owner Jeffrey Loria never has led the league in patience. The turnaround needs to start soon. Tonight, por favor? (By the way, Jack McKeon is 84 now. Don't go there!).

MY BIGGEST TWEETS OF PAST 12 MONTHS: I had a curiosity and a few minutes' free time so I researched my most popular Twitter entries of the past year, based on number of combined re-Tweets and times favorited listed as "total" below. Here are the Top 10 Tweets:

Total  Date         Subject synopsis

449    6-14-14    Why is great pass in soccer always a "lovely ball"?

362    2-19-15    No confirmation yet, but blood clot feared on Bosh lung

340    5-10-14    Michael Sam kisses boyfriend after drafted (photo)

269*  4-20-15    Pot smokers get baked on 4/20 ... and every other day (*-as of this a.m.)

211    7-1-14      Prideful World Cup run ends for U.S.

154     8-7-14     ESPN suspends LeBatard, his reaction 

154    2-19-15    Heat gets Dragic, Riley wins again

150    4-14-15    LeBatard vs. Cain Velasquez (video)

131    3-3-15      LeBatard wears horse's head (video)

127    4-7-15      Mocking backpack wearers (video)

Others topping 100: 122 on 6-20-14 for "Let's Goooo States!" (video); 111 on 2-24-15 for prosthetic nose day at LeBatard show (video); and 107 on 1-13-15 for Canes snap Duke's 41-game home win streak.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

April 11, 2015

Heat lose again, playoff hopes on life support; plus is LeBron intentionally hurting Heat? (poll), Fins' Brandon Albert in boxing gym (video), Marlins off the schneid, NBA/Cuba verdict & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

1aa1acup
1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 11. Pictured right, coffee cup sentiment applying to current Heat playoff situation. 2) Mike Pouncey signs multi-year extension with Dolphins making him NFL's highest-paid center. Hope deal includes a babysitter to keep him out of trouble in the clubs. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): NBA/Heat/Cuba poll, Heat playoff update, Marlins 0-3, Kiper on Dolphins draft, MLB Stanton video & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Aside to my media brethren: Please tap the brakes on applying words like "disaster" to a lost game. One of the lessons of 9/11, at least for me, was to remind there are actual disasters, and that a huge loss in sports, no matter how big the blown lead or important the game, is not one. 

PLAYOFF CHASE: HEAT LOSE AGAIN, HOPES NEXT TO GONE: First Miami blows a 19-point lead in a crushing home loss to Bulls Thursday, then watches Friday as all three teams it is chasing win, and then loses at home tonight to Toronto 107-104. Heat have now lost nine of past 12 games at a time when wins were most essential. Miami must now win its final two games and pray. Four teams are jockeying on the home stretch for the Nos. 7 and 8 East seeds. (Playoff-likelihood percents below are not yet updated with tonight's Heat loss). How it looks from here entering Sunday's NBA action:

7. Boston: 37-42, W3. Playoff likelihood: 82.3% (up 16.5) per Hollinger/ESPN. Next: Sunday vs. CLE, then vs. TOR, @ MIL. Note: In driver's seat, with tiebreaker over Nets.

8. Brooklyn: 37-42, W1. Playoff likelihood: 81.2% (up 14.9). Next: Sunday @ MIL, then vs. CHI, vs. ORL. Note: Last two games being at home helps the cause.

9. Indiana: 36-43, W4. Playoff likelihood: 22.5% (down 10.2). Next: Sunday vs. OKC, then vs. WAS, @ MEM. Note: Pacers own tiebreaker over Heat, which is huge.

10. Miami: 35-45, L2. Playoff likelihood: 14.2% (down 21.3). Next: Monday vs. ORL, then @ PHI. Note: Heat own tiebreaker over Celtics and Nets, but would need 2-0 finish -- and much help -- for any chance. Clearest path to playoffs: Miami ends 2-0, and either Boston or Brooklyn lose all three remaining games.

IS LEBRON JAMES INTENTIONALLY TRYING TO SABOTAGE HEAT? Reports were Cleveland's LeBron James would sit out the two games this week against a Boston team that Miami is desperately chasing

1aa1alebronjamesfor a final East playoff spot. Well, James played last night but sat out fourth quarter in a home loss to Celtics -- and new reports are that he will sit out Sunday's game vs. Boston. He has every right; the Cavaliers have clinched the No. 2 seed. But suspicion is raised, especially if he sits out Sunday's rematch. It is not far-fetched, given the way LeBron departed Miami and left things with Pat Riley, that LBJ might time his rest to hurt the Heat by benefiting Boston. James would scoff at the idea and the truth may never be known, but I wonder how Heat fans feel? Clearly Miami is responsible for its own playoff standing, and losses like last night's make the Heat its own worst enemy. But facts are facts. Miami could really use Boston to lose both or at least one of the next two games, the Cavs are 2-9 without LeBron, and the timing of the King's "rest" could be a coffin nail for the franchise he left. Intentional? You tell me:

Poll result: Most favor Heat involvement in Cuba, but strong dissent, too: We asked how Heat should react to NBA's initiatives in Cuba, and 57.1 percent said "embrace it," while 36.5% said "avoid it" and 6.4% were undecided. The favorable number was running in the 70s but fell noticeably when it was first reported (in this column by me) that the Heat objected angrily and would not participate.

MARLINS OFF THE SCHNEID: [Update: Marlins blow 8-1 lead but hang on to beat Tampa Bay 10-9 in 10 innings for first win, getting the offensive bust-out they needed]. Original post: OK, 0-3 is 0.0185 percent of the season. I get that. Of course 0-3, at home, vs. a supposedly inferior division rival, when you score a grand total of three runs, makes 1aa1abbopeningweekit a bit worse. So does this: Ten straight road games -- tied for the longest trip of the season -- follow the three-game home series vs. Tampa Bay that begins tonight. Pressure shouldn't find any team this soon. Heck, you have to go back a whole year (2014 Angels) to find a team that began 0-3 and still made the playoffs. Pressure is lurking, though. It's waiting around the corner. That's why a strong showing vs. the Rays and an offensive breakout is important.

FINS' BRANDON ALBERT TRAINING IN BOXING GYM: Interesting video here by Herald's Charles Trainor Jr. of Dolphins left tackle Brandon Albert doing offseason work at Matt Baiamonte's boxing gym in Wynwood:

 

IF GREG COTE WERE IN CHARGE OF ROAD SIGNS: The spot-on, realistic-looking road signs pictured at 1aa1akardashianright, in red, have mysteriously begun popping up all over the Los Angeles area. Not sure who is behind the comic genius, but I love it. Imagine a culture where the faux-famous like the Kardashian family -- famous only for being famous -- were not welcomed everywhere as royalty but rather shunned as sad examples of the embarrassment of celebrity worship.

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April 09, 2015

Blew it! Heat waste huge lead, put playoff hopes in grave peril; plus Heat, NBA at odds over Cuba (with poll); also Kiper's latest draft guess for Dolphins, Fins preseason schedule, MLB video starring Stanton, The Masters & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.


1aa1awesw1) It is THURSDAY, APRIL 9. Happy birthday, Mom! 2) Wes Welker (pictured), almost 34 and addled by concussions, visited the Dolphins. Gawd. He doesn't need to be signed. He needs to be told to retire. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Marlins Opening Day poll, Heat swoon, Duke-Wisconsin pick, well-dressed animals & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

NBA blindsides, angers Heat with new Cuba initiative: My latest column, online and shipped to Thursday's paper. Click on Unilateral Decision to read.

Marlins now 0-3, suffer Sleeping Bat Syndrome: Visiting Braves sweep Marlins with last night's 2-0 game, meaning Miami scored three runs in three games. The bright side? Two solid pitching performances. The dim side? Everything else. Nightmare start to the season for Miami. (Click on Another Oddball Opening Day for my column from Game 1). Perspective helps, of course. Still only three games of 162. Still, a fast buzzkill on all that hope and optimism. Up to Fish to win it back.

PLAYOFF CHASE: HEAT SUFFER CRUSHING LOSS TO BULLS: Miami blew a 19-point lead at home tonight to Chicago and lost 89-78 -- a crushing defeat that seriously imperils playoff hopes. Dwyane Wade (4-20, 9 points) was awful. An embarrassing 33-8 third quarter ruined the Heat's chances. Four teams are jockeying on the home stretch for the Nos. 7 and 8 East seeds. How it looks from here afgter tonight's huge Heat loss (note playoff-likelihood percentages are not yet updated to reflect Miami's latest loss. Expect the Heat's number to plummet):

7. Boston: 36-41, W2. Playoff likelihood: 59.3% (up 21.5) per Hollinger/ESPN. Next: Friday @ CLE, then vs. CLE, vs. TOR and @ MIL. Note: Tough closing schedule with two straight vs. LeBron.

8. Brooklyn: 36-42, L1. Playoff likelihood: 58.7 (down 16.3). Next: Friday vs. WAS, then @ MIL, vs. CHI and vs. ORL. Note: Three remaining home games boost Nets' chances.

9. Indiana: 36-43, W4. Playoff likelihood: 30.4 (down 0.9). Next: Friday @ DET, then vs. OKC, vs. WAS and @ MEM. Note: Pacers own tiebreaker over Heat, which is potentially big.

10. Miami: 35-44, L1. Playoff likelihood: 51.7 (down 3.2). Next: Saturday vs. TOR, then vs. ORL and @ PHI. Note: Heat own tiebreaker over Celtics and Nets, but may need 3-0 finish from here to make it.

NEW POLL: HEAT FACE DILEMMA WITH NBA'S CUBA INITIATIVE. WHAT TO DO?: [Link to my latest column is above]. For 29 of 30 NBA franchises and markets, this is not an issue. For 29 teams and their fans, U.S.-Cuba relations is a 1aa1acuba2subject closer to who-cares than hot-button. For one team only, the Miami Heat, it's important. The dilemma is that being involved in the league's evolving, warming relationship with Cuba might prove smart in the long-term from a business standpoint, but might prove costly in the short-term from a public relations standpoint. After all, many, especially older, Miami Cuban exiles still want nothing to do with a Castro-led Cuba and feel passionately. They objected when President Barack Obama in December announced steps toward normalizing relations with Cuba -- which led to the NBA this week announcing it would hold a four-game camp in Cuba April 23-26. Many Miami fans might feel betrayed if their team involved itself in any way on the island. Curious how you'd steer the Heat's involvement in the NBA's gradual reach into Cuba? Take a dip in our poll and say why.

KIPER'S LATEST DRAFT GUESS PREDICTION FOR DOLPHINS: Mel Kiper's Mock Draft 4.0 newly out on ESPN.com now has Miami selecting Washington defensive tackle Danny Shelton (6-2, 339; pictured) 14th overall. Saying Kiper: 

1aa1adannys"The Dolphins added Ndamukong Suh, but the depth chart for the interior of their defensive line is basically "Suh and that's about it." Shelton is a different kind of player than Suh, with a far more limited ability to rush the passer, but if they're on the field at the same time it could free Suh up to be the kind of disruptor the Dolphins are paying for, which is what took place in Detroit, where the Lions had a good rotation along the interior. Shelton isn't just insurance for Suh, he's a nice complement. He's not as disruptive as sack and TFL totals indicate, but he can eat up double-teams at the point of attack and make others around him better. He has great awareness and will occasionally simply discard blocks and make the tackle himself." My thought: A possibility, but doubt Fins go for a DT.

Dolphins preseason schedule: Via the NFL today, it's Dolphins at Chicago Aug. 13-17, at Carolina Aug. 20-24, vs. Atlanta Aug. 27-30 and vs. Tampa Bay Sept. 3-4.

THE GROWING STARDOM OF GIANCARLO STANTON, CONTINUED: Money = fame in America, and so Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins' $325 Million Man, is a bigger star than ever before he hits his first home run this season. The latest example: This new MLB video starring Stanton, set to what sounds like a rapid heartbeat. Good stuff:

 

Poll result: Most believe Marlins are a playoff team: We asked in the previous blogpost (you may still vote) and 69.1 percent said, yes, the Marlins will be a playoff team this year, while 30.9% said no. The yes vote was running nearer the 75-80 range early but dipped after the Opening Day loss.

Big Opening Night on TV for baseball: ESPN2's Opening Night game Sunday (Cardinals-Cubs) drew 3.35 million viewers, a 47 percent increase over last year. It was biggest audience for ESPN or ESPN2 Opening Night since 2008, and best for any regular-season game since Yanks-Red Sox Aug. 7, 2011.

'16 NCAA odds: Bovada sets North Carolina as the favorite at 6-1 for next year's men's NCAA Tournament title, followed by Kentucky 8-1, Maryland and Virginia both 12-1, and champ Duke and Kansas both 16-1. Miami Hurricanes are 40-1 (tied for 19th), ahead of Florida and FSU, both 50-1.

Masters odds: Rory McIlroy is favored to win The Masters this week at 11-2 odds, via Bovada, followed by Jordan Spieth at 8-1, Bubba Watson at 10-1 and Jason Day at 14-1. Tiger Woods? He's tied for 11th at 33-1. Check out WalletHub.com for an interesting, fact-stuffed Masters By The Numbers.

Burger-King wedding: Joel Burger is marrying Ashley King. This is a blog. So you know it's the truth. Story here.

Check back a lot because we constantly update and add to our latest blogposts...

 

April 03, 2015

It's Final Four Saturday! But should NCAA Tournament change its format? Poll. Vote now!; plus unlucky Canes, Cuban baseball, Josh Freeman, Heat/Panthers playoff update, John Wolin & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND. 

1aa1aserenawms
1) It is SATURDAY, APRIL 4. I'm down on Key Biscayne today to columnize off Serena Williams' presumed crushing of her hopeless opponent in the Miami Open women's final. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Top 20 athletes poll, Heat/Panthers playoff update, Canes/NIT. dead Cats, Ricky Williams sings, Marlins, Dolphins cheerleaders & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

1aa1ajoshfExcavation: Dolphins exhume human remains of quarterback Josh Freeman's career. If he surprises everybody, he might be Miami's third-string QB. If he's the Josh Freeman of the past couple of years, he'll quietly disappear by August. This signing is a low risk hit-or-miss by GM Dennis Hickey, who, while with Tampa Bay, had a big paw in the Bucs dubiously drafting Freeman in first round (17th overall) in 2009.

Cuban baseball and MLB: ESPN's Outside The Lines has a topic premiering on Sunday (9 a.m.) that may be of special interest in Miami. "Cuba On Deck?" explores the increased footprint of Cuban players in MLB and how continued defections along with warming U.S. relations will only increase their number. Click here for a 1-minute video preview.

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat hanging on, Cats about done. Update entering SaturdayA daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in their Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending even in 8th place at 34-41 (L2), 1 game from 7th, 1/2 game ahead of 9th with 7 games left (next tonight at Detroit). Heat playoff likelihood: 70.3% (down 0.3) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 10th place at 36-42 (W1), 3 points from 9th and 6 from 8th with 4 games left (next tonight vs. Tampa Bay). Cats playoff likelihood: 0.2% (unchanged) per sportsclubstats.com.

FINAL FOUR SATURDAY, UNLUCKY CANES FALL IN N.I.T.; TIME FOR CHANGE IN NCAA POSTSEASON?: Finally, the Final Four! Tonight it's 7-Michigan State vs. 1-Duke and 1-Wisconsin vs. 1-Kentucky, and it sure feels like the Duke-Kentucky finale everybody expects. Meanwhile, three thoughts watching Miami's men's basketball team fall 66-64 to Stanford in overtime Thursday for the NIT championship. 1) 1aa1acanesnitNobody, ever again, question whether Michael Irvin's blood runs the greenest and orange-est of any alum ever. Man he was into it. 2) Canes got unlucky, big time. First having to play without injured center Tonye Jekiri and point guard Angel Rodriguez, two big losses. And also that big, dubious call against UM with 3.4 seconds left. I thought Miami was the better team, best in the NIT. Which brings us to ... 3) The NCAA should consider retooling its hoops postseason format so that the NCAA Tournament invites the 64 best teams in the country, period, without automatic bids for small-conference winners. Let the Grade 2 and 3 conferences have their own tournament or meld into the NIT. Hampton at 16-17 gets in the Big Tournament but Miami does not? Anybody outside of Hampton think that makes much sense? With my suggested format there still would be Cinderellas -- somebody gotta be seeded 16th -- except Cinderella would be bigger, and better, and the No. 1s would have a challenge from the start, and in every round. Curious what you think. Take a dip in our poll and say why?

Poll result: Jordan top athlete of past 20 years, but runnerup a surprise: We invited you to name your top five athletes from ESPN's list of the 20 greatest of the past 20 years (that means the maximum vote for any individual was 20 percent), and predictably Micheal Jordan won. But your runnerup, Michael Phelps, was a surprise at least to me. Your results, with ESPN rank in parentheses:

1aa1amj1. Michael Jordan 15.7% (1); 2. Michael Phelps 10.5% (9); 3. LeBron James 10.2% (2); 4. Tiger Woods 10.0% (3); 5. Usain Bolt 6.4% (16); 6. Tom Brady 6.3% (4); 7. Serena Williams 5.9% (6); 8. Roger Federer 5.7% (5); 9. Lionel Messi 4.6% (12); 10. Derek Jeter 4.1% (10).

11. Floyd Mayweather 3.7% (17); 12. Peyton Manning 3.3% (7); 13. Tim Duncan 3.0% (14); 14. Kobe Bryant 2.3% (8); 15. Lance Armstrong 1.9% (15); T16. Barry Bonds 1.6% (19); T16. Brett Favre 1.6% (15); T18. Sidney Crosby 1.3% (20); T18. Shaquille O'Neal 1.3% (11); 20. Mia Hamm 0.9% (18).

My vote? In order, it was Jordon, James, Woods, Williams and Jeter.

FOR THE LOVE OF JOHN WOLIN: One of my career mentors and best friends was John Wolin (pictured), a Miami Herald editor, reporter and beloved curmudgeon for 21 years. He died in 2004 after a life 1aa1ajwolinremarkable only partly because John was born with achondroplastic dwarfism that led to gradually increasing paralysis. Long before it became politically correct to refer to dwarfs as "little people," Wolin cut to the chase and disarmingly called himself "a bald, crippled midget." He was one of a kind. He would make you laugh and break your heart. He was one of the most passionate journalists I have ever known. When we moved into our new house John gave me an elaborate set of wrenches that I still have. His beautiful now-grown daughter is my godchild. John lives on unforgettably in the memory of those he knew but also in a scholarship fund in his name at Florida International University, benefiting aspiring journalists. The fund is now accepting donations at GoFundMe/JohnWolin. Those interested in additional information may also visit FIU's Wolin scholarship page here, or call the university's School of Journalism & Mass Communication at (305) 919-5625. The man was extraordinary. May readers blessed with generosity consider finding the cause worthy.

WHY? BECAUSE IT WAS FRIDAY THAT'S WHY!:

 

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March 20, 2015

Who is South Florida's biggest sports star? You pick 3 from 10 choices. New poll. Vote now!; plus March Madness, Heat/Panthers playoff update, Haiku Challenge update & more

1aa1apatriley1) It is SATURDAY, MARCH 21. Heat potentate Pat Riley, imprimatur of cool, turned 70 on Friday. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Boring March Madness ahead? with poll, Haiku Challenge news, Loria reimagined, Pouncey brothers, D&G & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine. (New stuff from this week's LeBatard Show).

NCAA TOURNAMENT: Georgia State coach falls off chair during game: Georgia State's Ron Hunter, coaching while sitting on a courtside office chair due to an injury, falls from seat in closing minutes of his 14th-seeded team's upset of No. 3 Baylor Thursday. Funny! Click here to watch.

PLAYOFF CHASE: Heat stay hot, Panthers need huge finish. Update entering Saturday/today: A daily blog feature as two teams (one barely) fight to finish in top eight in Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending up in 7th place at 32-36 (W3) after last night's win over Detroit, 1 1/2 games from 6th with 14 games left (next Sunday at Oklahoma City). Heat playoff likelihood: 68.4% (up 9.0) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 10th place at 32-39 (W1), 3 points from 9th and 5 points from 8th with 11 games left (next tonight vs. Boston). Cats playoff likelihood: 2.8% (unchanged) per sportsclubstats.com.

WHO IS SOUTH FLORIDA'S BIGGEST CURRENT PRO SPORTS STAR?: I'm looking forward to this vote, 1aa1astarpowerbecause the landscape is evolving. It has added firepower. Ndamukong Suh is a 1aa1astarpower2new Dolphin. The Marlins and Panthers have recently added certain future Hall of Famers in Ichiro and Jaromir Jagr, respectively. I leave it up to you how you interpret the poll question. Certainly longevity in the market is a factor. But the question, stripped bare, is who is greater Miami's biggest professional team sports star right now. We've offered you up to three votes, not just one, because the question is open to interpretation, and also because the list is pretty strong. The order is alphabetical. (If I left someone out, let me know in the Comments section). Vote for your top three (3) and say why.

Interpreting the voting results: With three votes allowed per person, a player's maximum vote percentage would be 33.3 percent if everyone voting cast the maximum three votes. A player's percentage multiplied by three is a fair barometer of the percentage of ballots on which he is being included. A percentage over 33.3 indicates some voters are voting only for that person. 

HAIKU CHALLENGE CONTEST UPDATE: Our annual March Madness Haiku Challenge continues ... but not for much longer, so enter soon! Get those 17-syllable poems in now. Three simple rules: 1. If your poem 1aa1ahaikuis 17 syllables exactly and it's about the NCAA Tournament/March Madness/college hoops, it's a valid entry. 2. You may submit entries here in the blog's 'Comments' section below (preferred) OR email them to gcote@miamiherald.com. 3. You may enter as many haikus as you wish. We'll give you some warning on the new deadline but enter now just to be safe. Contest prize? Grand prize will be the glory of victory, but we'll throw in something else. Maybe a Dolphins or Heat media guide? Maybe a chance to visit the Dan LeBatard Show on a Tuesday we're in-studio? We'll figure something out. In any case, rev up your creative mind. Ready, set ... haiku!

THE EXPECTATIONS ON GIANCARLO STANTON, QUANTIFIED: How much is expected of the Marlins' $325 Million Man? Well, new betting odds out via Bovada have Stanton as the money favorite to win both the MLB home-run title (at 7-1 odds) and the NL MVP award (at 3-1).

Poll result: Kentucky the pick over the field: We asked, "What would you bet is more likely to happen in the men's NCAA Tournament, Kentucky wins it all, or a different team wins?," and the pick was Kentucky with 62.5 percent.

ON THE LEBATARD SHOW: 1aa1adanshowOne of the fun things about my doing the Dan LeBatard Show on Tuesdays each week is that it becomes interactive with listeners. Last week, for example, during a break in the show, I posted this Vine from the Clevelander (where the studio is) that depicted LeBatard smoking a cigar while scantily clad women danced on stage in the background. Quintessential South Beach. Well, that Vine inspired the photo-illustration at right, created by talented listener Angel Resto. Love the detail, such as me wearing a jacket with a "Greg's Lobos" logo.

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March 17, 2015

March Madness Haiku Challenge! Got 17 syllables? Enter here, enter now!; plus Wade leads Heat past LeBron, Canes men miss on NCAAs, latest Hot Button Top 10, Heat/Panthers playoff update & more

GREG COTE'S RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

It's Radio Tuesday!: I'm back in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. Ears welcome.


1aa1adaypatrick1) It is TUESDAY, MARCH 17. Happy St. Patrick's Day! 2) I don't know if new Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills will be better than departed Mike Wallace. But I know this. Stills immediately immediately leads all of South Florida sports in hair. 3) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 4) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Mike Wallace traded with poll, NFL biggest-moves poll, Heat/Panthers playoff update, Marlins in fantasy, Canes hoops & more. 5) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Wade's 32 lifts Miami in Return of LeBron II: [Click on The LeBron Effect for my column from last night's game] LeBron last night made his second return to Miami since jilting leaving the Heat to return to Cleveland, but the story was Dwyane Wade, with 32 points, leading an exhilirating 106-92 Heat win. Playing LeBron brings out the best in Wade and the Heat. "None of our guys had to look at a calendar to know who we were playing," as coach Erik Spoelstra put it.

NCAA Tournament odds: Kentucky of course is a near even-money favorite at 6-5, according to Bovada today. Then it's Arizona at 15-2, Wisconsin 17-2, Duke 9-1 and Villanova and Virginia both 10-1.

Me on podcast: I was invited to discuss Ndamukong Suh, Hassan Whiteside and the Marlins on the Cooper and Rupert podcast out of Los Angeles. Click here to listen. I'm on for 12 minutes starting at 35:00.

The Dolphins, for what's worth...: ...will select Louisville receiver DeVante Parker 14th overall in the first round, according to the latest CBSSports.com mock draft. MY comment: Signing Kenny Stills makes a first-round WR unlikely.

PLAYOFF CHASE UPDATE: Heat/Panthers status entering today/Tuesday: A daily blog feature as two teams fight to finish in top eight in Eastern Conference. HEAT--Trending up in 8th place at 30-36 (W1), 0 games (tiebreaker) from 7th with 16 games left (next Wednesday vs. Portland). Heat playoff likelihood: 48.3% (up 17.2) per Hollinger/ESPN. PANTHERS--Trending even in 10th place at 31-38 (L1), 1 point from 9th and 6 points from 8th with 13 games left (next tonight vs. Montreal). Cats playoff likelihood: 3.3% (down 0.2) per sportsclubstats.com.

IT'S BACK! IT'S OUR 10TH ANNUAL MARCH MADNESS HAIKU CHALLENGE!: Because, really, what captures America's mania over the NCAA Tournament and bracketeering better than ancient Japanese short-form poetry!? You know what a haiku is. It's a 17-syllable poem. (Not 16 and not 18!) Ideally it's in 1aa1ahaiku5-7-5 structure but we're loose with that. Our three rules are simple: 1. If your poem is 17 syllables exactly and it's about the NCAA Tournament/March Madness/college hoops, we'll consider it a valid entry. 2. You may submit entries in the blog's 'Comments' section below OR email them to gcote@miamiherald.com, and you may enter as many haikus as you wish. 3. We'll accept entries starting Monday at 8 a.m. and ending Wednesday at 6 p.m., with the winner to be announced on Thursday. Last year's contest was won by reader Scott Vogelsberg. His winning entry: "Beware Ides of March * Et tu Brutus the Buckeye * Bubbles pop for all." The judging panel (that's me) appreciated the classic 5-7-5 phrasing, liked the nod to the Roman calendar, loved the link between Ohio State and Shakespeare, and also enjoyed the 1aa1adickievdouble entendre on bubbles popping. But you can do better! Prizes, you ask? The winner's grand prize will be the glory of victory, but we'll throw in something else. Maybe a Dolphins or Heat media guide? Maybe a sports book publishers send me that I don't read? Maybe a chance to visit the Dan LeBatard Show on a Tuesday we're in-studio? We'll figure something out. In any case, get your creative minds revved up. Remember, the entry window opens at 8 a.m. Monday.

DENIED!: HURRICANES MEN PASSED OVER FOR NCAA TOURNAMENT INVITE; UM WOMEN GET IN: The expert bracketologists had judged Miami likely to be on the wrong side of the bubble coming into Selection Sunday, and for Jim Larranaga's 21-12 Hurricanes the experts unfortunately were right. Miami was denied an at-large bid to the men's NCAA Tournament. It would have been a pleasant surprise more than a shock if UM made it, but the Canes were hurt by a mediocre RPI number and a 1-7 record vs. ranked teams. Now, instead of an eighth NCAA appearance, most recently 2013, Miami will settle for its 11th appearance in the NIT, most recently 2012. No. 2-seeded Miami will host North Carolina Central Tuesday at 7 p.m. Larranaga and UM fans can complain a little but not too much. Since starting the season 8-0 Miami was barely above .500 the rest of the way. Better news: Tonight, Katie Meier's UM women as expected were invited to their NCAAs.

Poll result: Mixed but lukewarm reviews for Wallace's Dolphins term: We asked if you thought Mike Wallace's two seasons with Miami were a success, pretty good,  barely OK or a failure, and it was 38.3 percent barely OK, 37.3% pretty good, 17.8% failure and 6.6% success. 

Poll result: Suh, Graham top NFL's biggest moves: We asked what have been NFL's biggest recent free-agency deals or trades and the top three among 12 choices were Ndamukong Suh to Dolphins with 34.4 percent, Jimmy Graham to Seahawks with 24.6% and Darrelle Revis to Jets with 11.1%.

HOT BUTTON MAR. 15: TOP 10 THINGS SOUTH FLORIDA SPORTS FANS ARE TALKING ABOUT: Our blog-exclusive Sunday feature. Hot Button means what's on our minds, locally and nationally, as the sports week just past pivots to the week ahead:

1aa1ahotbutton1. DOLPHINS: Fins sign Ndamukong Suh, trade Mike Wallace: What a week in Finland! Starts with team signing DT Ndamukong Suh. Ends with Miami trading WR Mike Wallace and signing WR Kenny Stills and TE Jordan Cameron. Of course the big news was Suh. A terrific talent but one who often shows a propensity for unsportsmanlike conduct that has some calling him the league’s dirtiest player. But enough about the Heat’s Hassan Whiteside!

2. COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Bubble burst. Canes denied NCAA: March Madness began with last night's Selection Sunday show setting the men’s NCAA Tournament field, with the women’s side coming today. As expected the Canes men narrowly missed and aettle for the NIT; the UM women might sneak in. The alternative, the NIT, should be called the NOT because it ain’t the NCAA.

3. HEAT: LeBron visits tonight as playoff chase continues: The Heat today are ninth in the East and just off playoff pace while awaiting a Monday visit by LeBron James’ Cavaliers — his second time back (first was Christmas) since leaving. Heat president Pat Riley said last week it remains “shocking to me that it happened.” C’mon, Pat. This is a “No Dwelling Zone.”

4. PANTHERS: Big loss has Cats running out of time to make postseason: Panthers lost to Rangers last night to end three-game win streak but remain six points from the final playoff seed with 13 games to play. The good news: Florida still has three games left against Boston, who it is chasing. The bad news: Even winning all three might not be enough.

5. AUTO RACING: Prost wins inaugural Miami ePrix: Nicolas Prost won as the first race of electric cars hummed through downtown Miami streets Saturday in one of 10 stops in the circuit's first season. It was really weird to see cars going that fast with no roar of engines. But no weirder than the only American in the race being a driver named Scott Speed.

6. MARLINS: Fish off to strong spring start: With spring training about one-third done, the Marlins sat atop the Grapefruit League standings with an 8-3 record after beating Detroit yesterday. Can we start the playoffs now?

7. NFL: Flurry of free agency moves, trades: With Miami doing its part, Jimmy Graham, Darrelle Revis, and DeMarco Murray were among the latest wave of NFL players to switch uniforms in the most active offseason in memory.
 
8. BASEBALL: MLB hints at future games in Cuba: New commissioner Rob Manfred expressed openness to playing exhibitions in Cuba if U.S. relations continue to warm. Hey don't blame me, Miami hard-liners. Unlike Ozzie, I don't like Fidel and never have!
 
9. TENNIS: Miami Open gears for next week's start: As Serena Williams ended her Indian Wells boycott, pro tennis shifts to Key Biscayne next week. This year's Miami Open will include a swimwear fashion show, pro beach volleyball tournament and “Taste of the Open” event with celebrity chefs. Reportedly there also will be tennis matches, time permitting.
 
10. BASKETBALL: NBA, NCAA agree to discourage early entries: The NBA and NCAA have agreed on a plan to discourage players from leaving school early for the pros. You knew it had gone too far when middle-school kids started sitting out NBA games because of acne.

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January 30, 2015

SB Smirk IV: Katy Perry promises your face will melt at halftime; plus, POLL: Do controversies make you like NFL less? Vote now!; also Kaaya and Heisman, Seattle fans 'n weed & more

1) It is FRIDAY, JANUARY 30. I'm embedded at Random Evidence Laboratories today dreaming up the Sunday notes-column package. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Super Bowl With a Smirk III, Villain Bowl poll, no-drone-zone, Wade injury, UM football schedule & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also on Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Kaaya on early Heisman watch list: Canes QB Brad Kaaya has early 33-1 odds to win the next Heisman Trophy, tied for 18th best in country as per Bovada. Favorite right now at 6-1 is Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott.

1aa1apickpats 1aa1acotepixSuper Bowl pick: Patriots, 27-23: It's official. (If only that meant it's sure to be right). I discuss the evenness of this game and why it looks like two great teams portending a classic-to-be Super Bowl. Also I detail the one edge that makes New England my pick. Click on SB Gem for the full prediction capsule.

SUPER BOWL WITH A SMIRK IV: KATY PERRY PROMISES TO MELT YOUR FACE. IS THAT A GOOD THING?: Today's fourth of our five daily Super Bowl With a Smirk notes columns leads with the 1aa1akatyp 1aa1alionpickSunday halftime show featuring Katy Perry, who conducted a revealing press

conference on Thursday, wearing the outfit she'll have on at halftime (pictured right). I'M JUST KIDDIN'! She'll wear clothes. Who do you think she is, Miley 1aa1aguadalupeCyrus? Katy admitted some pre-recorded music would be used and said "faces
will melt" in reaction to a surprise female guest. Melting faces. Sounds creepy. (Word has since leaked that the "surprise" guest will be Missy Elliott, a rapper who was pretty big circa 1997-2005). Click on Smirk IV for the full column.
1aa1achickensAlso included today: Marshawn Lynch speaks (sort of), unlikable head coaches, Richard Sherman's baby, drones, Vulcan the lion, nuns, counterfeit merchandise and the National Chicken Council. [Previously: Smirk III, Smirk IISmirk I].

SMIRK IV POLL: IMPACT OF NFL CONTROVERSIES: The Ray Rice video, concussions, "Deflategate" -- controversies are nothing new in the NFL, and each of them spark outrage, and yet the NFL seems as popular as ever. Time for you to weigh in if you'd like:

Poll result: Pats the bad guy in Villain Bowl: Two black-hat teams here, both disliked beyond their fandoms, so we asked which makes the better villain. You said Patriots, 71.1 percent to Seahawks' 28.9%.

SUPER BOWL = BIG BUSINESS FOR SEATTLE POT INDUSTRY: Medical and recreational marijuana are legal in Washington State, and a retailer in Seattle called Solstice is rolling 12,000 joints for Sunday in anticipation of a spike in business. Cannot confirm that Seahawks fans, when asked what they are most looking forward to in Sunday's game, answered, "the snacks." [Note: So my boss doesn't get mad, this item and the following video are NOT an endorsement of marijuana, which sources tell me is evil and perhaps also wicked]. 

 

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January 13, 2015

The curious, shameful skepticism about Rob Konrad's tale of survival; plus elevating Urban Meyer, 'Shameless,' your Super Bowl pick & more

RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND.

It's Radio Tuesday!: We're in-studio today with the Dan LeBatard Show, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio -- our 46th national show. Have a new "Back In My Day" ready to roll. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 13. Today is my parents' anniversary date, which led to the creation of me. See, people used to get married first and then have kids. How quaint! 2) Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): AFC/NFC title-game polls, Hassan Whiteside, history of Heat 7-footers, Canton verdict & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Buckeyes favored to repeat: Love the instant odds! Confetti is still falling on Ohio State and already OSU is installed as a 6-1 favorite to win next saeson's national title, via Bovada. TCU is next at 15-2, then Alabama at 10-1. Further down we see Florida State 16-1, Florida 33-1 and Miami 75-1.

Wade ninth in jersey sales: Updated NBA jersey sales rankings are out, with Heat's Dwyane Wade No. 9. The top five: LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose.

WHY THE DOUBTERS ON ROB KONRAD?: You probably know the Rob Konrad story by now. Ex-Dolphins fullback falls overboard while fgishing along last week, watches his boat onautopilot motor away from 1aa1akonradhim, and spends 16 hours at sea, somehow surviving. I tell the extraordinary tale today in a column off yesterday's first public comments by Konrad. Click on Survivor to read it. (Konrad and wife Tammy are pictured from the news conference). I find Konrad's story to be absolutely true and close to miraculous. There are doubters, though. I address that briefly in the longer-version column that appears online, writing, "It is our human nature to be skeptical, so there may be some who doubt parts of this tale simply because they cannot fathom 16 hours alone at sea. Me, I hope I am never so cynical that I stop believing in man’s capacity for heroism." Sure enough, a few emailers have cast doubt on Konrad -- as if he created and involved his wife, family and friends in an elaborate hoax. Some early media accounts (here is one from Newsweek.com published Friday) also wonder if the story is too good to be true. I do not consider myself naive. My profession demands that a critical eye is my default view of just about everything. But I believe Rob Konrad. Now, more than before, maybe I believe a little in miracles, too. And I feel a little bit sorry for those who can't.

ELEVATING URBAN: Ohio State coach Urban Meyer (pictured) now is a three-time national champion 1aa1ameyeru(two with the Gators) after last night's resounding 42-20 spanking of Oregon in the first playoff-era college championship game. And with a third-string quarterback! I'm no Urban fan, but I must say it may be time to elevate him to the pantheon of great college coaches. Only Bear Bryant (5), Frank Leahy (4) and Nick Saban (4) have won more recognized major-college titles. Meyer and Saban are now racing to see who catches and passes the great Bear first. Age alone suggests Meyer, 50, has a better chance than Saban, 63, to retire as the college game's most decorated coach.

ON 'SHAMELESS': How much I love my wife came clear Monday night when I agreed to watch the Golden 1aa1aemmyrGlobes with her (women and awards shows!), and delay watching the season debut of Shameless until last night on demand. I love the Showtime series. William H. Macy's Frank Gallagher might be the greatest character on TV, and I have a Creepy Old Guy Crush on Emmy Rossum (pictured, as Fiona). The entire cast is an exercise in relentless dysfunction that is both hilarious and sad. Fellow Shamelessites know what I mean. The rest of you, get on board.

Poll result: You like Seahawks and Patriots even more in NFL title games: We asked your predictions for the upcoming AFC and NFC championship games and it was Patriots over Colts by 74.0 percent and Seahawks over Packers by 63.3%.

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January 06, 2015

Dolphins hire Tannenbaum; plus my Hall of Fame ballot and, yes, it includes Bonds and Clemens. Would your's? New poll. Vote now!; also gay marriage, fake Beach Boys & more

RANDOM EVIDENCE BLOG: MIAMI. SPORTS. AND BEYOND. 

It's Radio Tuesday: I'm back in-studio with the Dan LeBatard Show today after a two-week holiday hiatus, 3-7 on The Ticket Miami, 4-7 on ESPN Radio. A new "Back In My Day" segment is in hand. Ears welcome.

1) It is TUESDAY, JANUARY 6. Click on Random Evidence for our latest Sunday notes-column package after a two-week holiday hiatus. 2) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Dolphins-draft-needs poll, happy birthday Shula, R.I.P. Stuart Scott, Hot Button Top 10 & more. 3) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

DOLPHINS HIRE TANNENBAUM AS DIRECTOR OF FOOTBALL OPS: The Dolphins today hired Mike Tannenbaum, formerly of the Jets, as executive vice president of pro football operations -- the old Bill Parcells role. He reportedly will oversee (and have firing power over) GM Dennis Hickey but not over coach Joe Philbin. Hickey can't be happy, although he reportedly maintains final say over the 53-man roster. What this means: Owner Stephen Ross doesn't quite trust Philbin or Hickey. Dolphins in flux. Again.

On Heat, Panthers: Click on Falling, Rising for today's column by me. It's on how the Heat and Panthers both are headed for a fight just to make the playoffs, and how that's an indignity for one club but a triumph for the other.

MY HALL OF FAME BALLOT INCLUDES BONDS, CLEMENS THIS YEAR: Update: Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz and Biggio elected. I voted for all four. Update 30 minutes before vote announced: The website baseballthinkfactory.org, based on a screening of voters, projects the five inductees today will be, in order of support: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio and (narrowly) Mike Piazza. Original post: The latest inductees into Cooperstown are to be announced today at 2 p.m. I became a Baseball Hall of Fame voter for the first time a year ago, and did not include any "Steroids Era" guys on my ballot. It was personal. I felt my first- 1aa1abondsclemsnsever ballot should be as "clean" as the sport aspires to be. This year, however, I voted for both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens (pictured). My 10 votes in all went to, alphabetically: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Nomar Garciaparra, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Mike Mussina, Gary Sheffield and John Smoltz. For the record I think Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz will get in. I think Sheffield has a good chance. I think Carlos Delgado and Mike Piazza have a shot. I do not think a sufficient 75 percent of my BBWAA brethren are ready yet to join me on Bonds and Clemens. My thinking on those two: Their career numbers are so extraordinary, so enormous, that they would have been Cooperstown-worthy even without PEDs. (I am much less sure on Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and others). I also believe the Hall of Fame is not the Hall of Sainthood. I further believe that guys like Bonds and Clemens (yes, and Pete Rose) have been punished enough by their previous barring from Cooperstown and by their public shaming. Of course all of that is moot as I fully expect both men to fall well short of the Hall again today. I respect my colleagues who continue take the highest moral ground on this. Hopefully they in turn respect those of us who have come to think otherwise -- at least on Bonds and Clemens. Here's a poll inviting your thoughts on this. Vote and say why you feel as you do.

Poll result: Guard, linebacker top Dolphin draft needs: We asked what position the Dolphins should target with the top pick in next NFL Draft, and among eight choice offensive guard (34.9 percent) and linebacker (27.0%) dominated. Defensive tackle (15.9%) and cornerback (12.6%) were next.

1aa1agaymarriageIT'S ABOUT TIME, FLORIDA: Congratulations to my home state for stepping gingerly into the 21st Century in becoming the 36th state to legalize same-sex marriage. And to Floridian gay couples for finally gaining their equal rights. Who are you, I or the government to tell any loving couple they are second-class citizens? Of course, with gay marriages inevitably will come gay divorces and the spawn of gay-divorce lawyers as a specialty practice. Oh how I wish I were kidding.     

BOYCOTT THE SEMI-BEACH BOYS!: The Beach Boys (sort of) play Thursday night in West Palm Beach, but, if you have tickets, beware. You are getting half the product. I'd ask for my money back. This is the version 1aa1amloveof the Beach Boys hijacked by frontman Mike Love (pictured), who unfortunately owns the group name. He is touring with only one other original Beach Boy, Bruce Johnstone. The group toured last year with all its original living members -- including Al Jardine, David Marks and, of course, the irreplacable Brian Wilson -- but Love essentially fired the other three. Boycott Mike Love. Boycott the fake, sort of, semi-Beach Boys. (Or at least smuggle in a 'WE WANT BRIAN WILSON!' sign).

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January 02, 2015

College championship game vs. Super Bowl? New poll. Vote now!; plus NFL playoff picks, CFP semifinals, LeBron-leaving voted top story & more

1) It is SATURDAY, JANUARY 3. I've back in Random Evidence Laboratories conjuring the return of the Sunday notes-column package. Wooo! 2) R.I.P., Mario Cuomo, 82, for me, always a noble voice in American politics. 3) In The Previous Blogpost (ITPB): Our year-end biggest national sports story poll, CFP semifinals, OB result & more. 4) Follow us on Twitter @gregcote. Also Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

PRO: OUR NFL WILD-CARD WEEKEND PLAYOFF PICKS: Twelve teams have found what to the Dolphins has become the lost and unreachable island called the Playoffs, and the Super Bowl tournament begins with 1aa1afripix 1aa1anflposeight of those teams -- all but the top four seeds -- in action this weekend. Click on Wild-Card Gems for all four expanded prediction capsules, plus our final regular-season results. I pick two teams (Steelers, Cowboys) to cover, one team (Panthers) to win but not cover, and one outright upset (Bengals over Colts). Click on Playoff Picture for my Friday NFL column. I rank all 12 postseason teams in order of likelihood they'll win the Super Bowl, and also hand out my season-ending King Sport awards.

COLLEGE: O MY! OREGON, OHIO STATE REACH TITLE GAME: The historic first College Football Playoff has reached next week's championship game after Thursday's semifinals, in which Oregon clubbed 1aa1acfp1



1aa1acfp2Florida State in the Rose Bowl, 59-20, and then Ohio State stunned Alabama in the Sugar, 42-35. The Ducks unseating the Seminoles was expected. Here's how much the Buckeyes beating the Crimson Tide was not: Only one of 42 ESPN experts called OSU's win. For the Jan. 12 title game in Arlington, Tex., Oregon is installed as generally a 7 to 7.5-point favorite, with the over/under in the 70-74 range. The game gets a true power in Heisman Trophy-led Oregon and a sort of Cinderella in Ohio State, considering its quarterback injuries. But I can't help but feel America at large would have preferred and turned Alabama-FSU into a bigger TV draw. I may be wrong.

NOW, THE CHOICE: IF YOU COULD ONLY PICK ONE...: I know. If you're like me and most sports fans, you wouldn't want to choose. You want both. You'll watch both. But what if you had to pick between the College Football Playoff championship game and the Super Bowl? It isn't about who's playing; for the purpose of the poll assume your team isn't in it. The poll isn't asking about your interst in Oregon-Ohio State vs. your interest in a specific Super Bowl matchup. It's more about which version of football you prefer, right? Vote and say why.

Poll result: LeBron leaving Heat for Cleveland your top Miami sports story of 2014: We gave you 10 story-of-the-year choices, you voted for your top three, and the overall winner was LeBron James leaving the Heat for Cleveland with 28.3 percent. The poll survived an attempted hijacking (and an embarrassment) by the anti-Al Golden crowd, who voted the pressure on Golden after a 6-7 season into second place at 27.4%. Next came Giancarlo Stanton's record contract extension at 14.2%, Heat losing in NBA Finals at 11.8% and Dolphins missing playoffs again at 8.0%.

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